|Issue 1 - December 1971|
|Better To Reign In Hell Than Serve In Heaven|
for Jesus - all sorts of sizes, colours, ages and experiences, Jesus brings
certain kinds of people together but it seems they love only their own
kind. The wall of "Do you believe in Christ" always brought
conversation after conversation to a dead-end, whatever common understanding
between people had been established. If we expand LOVE all mankind has
Even this, it seems, is not enough, there is a question of locations. The poor unfortunate man run over outside the National Gallery - are we to think glory! glory! or mourn him as just another irrelevant death. Should we condemn the police who kept traffic moving in an already too crowded Trafalgar Square?
Walking round - groups of heads and lefties rapping to Jesus Freaks, all powerful trying to create faith in this lifetime too. Fuzz arbitrarily arresting people with badges - Free Angels, Angry Brigade. Religious heavies with words plastered all over them, proclaiming hate, fear, anger and death.
At the base of the platform, people listening to and heckling the species. Platform slogan "Moral Pollution needs a solution", to be achieved, presumably, by barbed wire, funeral pyres and the chimes of freedom passing. A sister for the Salvation Army's motto, "Blood and Fire".
Do you have to be evil to think that if they'd had the pill when Genesis was written the Book might have shaped up a little differently? Do you have to overlook political manipulation when Jesus was the power to draw people out of the countryside and the grey, lonely asphalt television suburbs for purposes of censorship? Muggeridge, Whitehouse (wife for Enoch), Lady Birdwood (darling of the Monday Club and National Front) and others at the helm.
Hyde Park was valid - some achieved ecstasy, joy and faith - but Trafalgar was the puritan backlash pure (sic) and simple. Puritanism, a backcloth for repression in all its guises - poverty, exploitation and racism - and all in the name of a socially acceptable interpretation of Christ's teachings. On the platform, the Joystrings who lost their power when a freak pulled out the plug ... gurgle gurgle ...
Jesus Freaks wearing Festival of Light T-shirts, reminiscent of psychedelic carrier-bags. If you can't beat 'em sell 'em! Behind Nelson's Column, the Gay Liberation's street theatre - the group most directly threatened by the Festival of Light. Italian Gay people there to. Fuzz getting more and more agitated with slogans such as: Ah! Men, All God's Children Got Nipples, Let a Hundred Flowers Blossom, and Gawd I'm Saved!!! Gay Lib standing there in earnest, lampooning the authority which is the source of their oppression.
Too much for the cops. They cleared the area in front of the "stage", Gay Lib moved round the base of the column to face a different audience. Jesus Freaks singing hymns, uncomfortable. Fuzz moved up and started to arrest Gay Lib people, seemed to know who they wanted. Marjorie Proops was arrested for obstruction!
Meanwhile a fuzz was having the pleasure of being kicked in the nuts by an irate nun in drag. Big boots and hairy legs under her habit. Too few freaks turned out to make an arrest impossible, meanwhile the underground are happy with the myth that was Operation Rupert.
Hyde Park - Jesus Freaks streamed in from Marble Arch for hours. Cliff Richard on the stage, his dull boyishness his only selling point. Singing about the eternal theme - finding Jesus! As Cliff launched into a "Walking through the Mist" number (a perpetual theme) he disappeared from view as a bomb, belching out white smoke, flew over. The eggs and heckling continued unabated, the crowd perhaps not as upset as they could have been.
Nigel Goodwin behind stage, the guy who brought Travelling Circus to Durham. He's an ex-actor and has a real gift for turning people onto beauty, without and within. Unfortunately the only way he can preserve it in people is to hang it on Jesus. So his converts grab Jesus and accept the idea ... that when he's gone they're even more lost and afraid than at the outset.
Often or not the "thing" lapses. Lots of fuzz, about a hundred lined up in the dusk, silver buttons popping the greyness and standing by a post marked "Gentlemen". Fuzz had stopped chewing their helmet straps, bad sign brothers and sisters.
Arthur Blessed (sic) a demagogue, crushing and stabbing his audience with religious fervour "jeeesussss loves you". Standing to the side of the stage, blackness touching the trees, talking to Jesus Freaks. And then everyone praying, ourselves beside two West Indian women, beautiful in their dignity and sincerity, praying with their arms on us. "We love Angela Davis too".
Journeying up the Northern Line Jesus Freaks playing guitars and singing over the first stretch (right on), women with banners and everywhere people with Festival of Light T-shirts.
Next year Edward Teeth for Canon(isation) **??**??**
The only formal opposition was the Festival of Life, the underground counter-demonstration. It was code-named 'Operation Rupert' and was largely mythical because it was unorganised. Groups of people and individuals were expected to turn up and pose the alternative - their presence would say it all. It was the usual underground shambles. The underground press had at one stroke created the opposition and was typically (for such occasions) to give itself a pat on the back for the effectiveness of 'Operation Rupert' (see Frends 12). A criticism of the underground on occasions such as this is that there is a tendency for people to attempt to 'own' the action and take credit for it, full stop. Once it has been grabbed people are misled into believing it's organised when in fact it isn't - the result is that what available initiative there is (and let's face it, there isn't enough) is stifled. Leave off it London scene ... unless you're really prepared to put some work into it. However, for those who did turn up, the action was on a symbolic plane, not aggro and splatter. That's the way it was for us and most of the other counter-demonstrators we saw and talked to. The police must have known this too, with the monitoring of underground magazines and 'lefty' publications and selective telephone tapping (BIT is continually hassled) there isn't much they don't know.
Almost certainly the police were forming a protective umbrella for the "backlash". It is an unlikely coincidence that the Festival of Light appeared in this climate which the Tories have created. A time when industry has been "liberated" (high unemployment and rising prices separated from human considerations) and is being rationalised for EEC entry; when force and little else is being thrown at Ulster; when labour is being given the big stick with the Industrial Relations Bill; and when the Law Courts have been permeated with a "law and order" veneer (Rudi Dutshke, Little Red School Book, Oz, Prescott and Purdie, the Mangrove Nine, Agitprop, Internment, etc etc). As the repression increases so things deteriorate further. There is no credible opposition to turn to. Small wonder that frightened people look to God for the answers, while concerning themselves with 'law and order' at home. Politics is dying, 'law and order' has become its obituary.
The substitution of manipulation for politics was not lost on the Festival of Light organisers - a lot of the younger people in the rally were there for Jesus, not hammering the permissive society. The demand that "Broadcasting ... should come within the net of the obscenity laws, and a council should be set up to ensure that both TV channels fulfil their obligations not to offend against public feeling and decency or incite to crime and disorder" (The Times, September 27th 1971). This is censorship, puritanism and the backlash (everything is open to interpretation) couched in the sham language of 'public feeling'. The steamroller continues, Mary Whitehouse is considered a typical television viewer!
In Hyde Park things were different. The emphasis was on Jesus not the backlash (the 'heavies' from the Trafalgar platform were nowhere to be seen). Hyde Park was the death-throe of the Established Church. The Rally was an affirmation of honesty and faith, not the social hypocrisy of weekly church attendance. The forces working to overthrow the Established Church parallel the situation in politics - namely demands for more democracy. Political apathy and declining church attendance are symptomatic rather than the cause of things. This is because the marriage of religion and state is complete. The church has therefore found it increasingly difficult to practise what it preaches. Today, for the first time in church history, the quantity and use of funds (running into millions of pounds) are being questioned. Laymen are attempting to show the leadership how the massive wealth could be used for Christian purposes. There is a new awareness of 'social problems' and realisation on the scale of the political challenge. The doctrine of man as inherently evil is being replaced by the slogan "Put Adam and Eve back in the Garden of Eden!" The lesson that man is as good as his society permits, is being learned.
A successful Christian life is more than membership of the House of Lords. The church has not a roof but the universe as its ceiling.